Starting a conversation with your child when you sense that something is affecting their behaviour and mood can be challenging, but it’s crucial to create an open and supportive environment for them to share their feelings. Here are some steps to help you initiate this conversation:
Choose the Right Time and Place: Find a quiet, comfortable, and private space where you and your child can talk without distractions. Choose a time when you both have some free time and can speak without feeling rushed.
Be Calm and Approachable: Approach the conversation with a calm and non-judgmental demeanour. Your child should feel that you are there to listen and support them rather than criticize or blame them for their behaviour.
Express Concern and Care: Begin by expressing your concern for their well-being. You can say something like, “I’ve noticed that you’ve been acting differently lately, and I’m concerned. I want to understand what’s going on and how I can help.”
Ask Open-Ended Questions: Avoid yes-or-no questions and instead ask open-ended ones that encourage your child to share their thoughts and feelings. For example, “Can you tell me more about what’s been bothering you?” or “How have you been feeling lately?”
Listen Actively: Give your child your full attention and actively listen to what they have to say. Avoid interrupting or immediately offering solutions. Let them speak at their own pace.
Empathize and Validate: Show empathy and validate your child’s feelings. Let them know that it’s okay to feel the way they do and that you understand how challenging it can be.
Share Your Concerns: If appropriate, share your observations of their behaviour and mood changes, but do so in a non-confrontational way. Focus on how their well-being is important to you.
Avoid Judgment: Avoid judgmental or critical statements. It’s essential to create a non-threatening environment in which your child feels comfortable sharing.
Offer Support and Help: Let your child know that you are there to support them. Offer help in finding solutions or seeking professional assistance if necessary.
Respect Their Boundaries: If your child is not ready to share everything at once, respect their boundaries and allow them to open up at their own pace. They may need time to build trust.
Follow Up: After the initial conversation, follow up with your child to check on their well-being and see how they are doing. Let them know that you are there for ongoing support.
Remember that building trust and open communication takes time. If your child is not ready to share everything immediately, be patient and continue to be there for them. If the issues seem complex or serious, it may be advisable to seek the guidance of a professional, such as a counsellor, who can work with your child and the family to address the underlying concerns.
If you would like to get in touch to see how we can best support your child’s wellbeing you can contact www.oktalk.co.uk.
You can find more information about young person counselling on https://oktalk.co.uk/private-wellbeing/services-private/young-people-counselling/